Sustaining Small Island Communities

Various Speakers

The Council Chamber, Queen’s University Belfast 09:30 :: 31st May 2013

Irish Scottish Forum for Spatial Planning

9.30-16.00, The Council Chamber, Queen’s University Belfast

The small off-shore islands of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland offer a rich heritage drawn from a complex blending of history, culture and landscape. These are places which can fire the imagination towards the idea of the rural idyll. They are also places which represent many of the challenges connected to contemporary rural development. This conference, convened under the auspices of the Irish Scottish Forum for Spatial Planning, brings together insights from the three jurisdictions that address the theme of sustaining small island communities and which in turn are set within a wider international context. Key considerations revolve around the interdependence of public policy and local action in harnessing potential, sustaining community viability, and enhancing accessibility. The Irish Scottish Forum for Spatial Planning currently draws on the interests of Planners within the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast, the School of Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen, and the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy at University College Dublin. This is the 5th conference to be convened by the Forum following its inception in 2009. Previous events have dealt with Strategic Spatial Planning and Cultural Identities, Rural Development White Papers, Cross-Border Planning and Development, and Titanic Heritage.

9.30am Welcome and conference introduction
Dr Michael Murray, Queen's University Belfast
10.00am Keynote paper:
“Resilient small island communities – the international context.”
Professor Stephen Royle, Queen's University Belfast
11.00am Coffee in The Canada Room
SESSION 2: LINKING POLICY AND PRACTICE (Chair: Dr Berna Grist, University College Dublin)
11.30am “Planning and development policy in Northern Ireland: the case of Rathlin Island.”
Tom Reid, Department for Regional Development, Northern Ireland
12noon “Facilitating community-led development on Scottish islands."
Neil Ross, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scotland
12.30pm “Policy and practice perspectives on Ireland's small island communities.”
Bertie Ó hAinmhire, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Ireland
1.00pm Buffet lunch in The Canada Room
University of Aberdeen)
2.00pm “The Rathlin Island living and working experience.”
Michael Cecil & David Quinney Mee, Rathlin Development & Community Association
2.30pm “Transforming natural resources through the use of digital technologies into business
opportunities on the Scottish small isles.”
Dr Rachel Shanks, University of Aberdeen
3.00pm “Older people and connectivity in Irish small island communities.”
Professor Vanessa Burholt, Swansea University
3.30pm Open discussion and conference close at 4pm

Speaker Profiles
Vanessa Burholt is Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Centre for Innovative Ageing (CIA) in the College of Human and
Health Sciences at Swansea University. She holds a public appointment as the research member on the National Partnership Forum
for Older People in Wales. Over the last five years, she has worked on and led research projects worth approximately €8M. Her
research interests include rurality, loneliness, support networks, intergenerational relationships, migration of older people and
attachment to place, and she has published over 40 papers and book chapters on these topics. Recent research on rurality includes
Grey and Pleasant Land? An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Connectivity of Older People in Rural Civic Society (ESRC) and
Maintaining function and well-being in later life: A longitudinal cohort study which will provide robust comparisons between the
experiences of older people in rural and urban areas of Wales.

Michael Cecil is Chair of Rathlin Development and Community Association. He resides on Rathlin and is from a traditional Island
family. Michael works for the Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd (RIFL) and NI Electricity and previously managed the Post Office on Rathlin.
He is one of the island’s volunteer fire crew. He has a particular interest in renewable energy and the development of a wind turbine
project on the island.

David Quinney Mee is Community Development Worker with Rathlin Development and Community Association. He lives in
Ballycastle, commuting daily to Rathlin, where he works in community development, supporting residents as they endeavour to
strengthen their social and economic viability in an area of intense environmental value and growing tourism. Working previously in
Central America, he witnessed the effects of local and international politics that cause deep human poverty and environmental
disaster and believes that sustainable community development models, global and local, are imperative.
Bertie Ó hAinmhire is a Principal Officer in the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with responsibility for the Gaeltacht
and the Offshore Islands. He attended University College Dublin and the National University of Ireland, Galway and holds a MSc
(Masters of Science in Innovation Management)from the University of Ulster. He lives in the Connemara Gaeltacht. He formerly
worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Tom Reid is Director of Transport Policy, Strategy and Legislation in the Department for Regional Development (DRD). The Division
is responsible for the Department’s legislative programme and taking forward policy on sustainable transport, public transport, policy
and legislation in relation to Northern Ireland’s air and sea ports and the European Union. Tom is also responsible for the
development and implementation of the Regional Development Strategy and the Regional Transportation Strategy. In this role Tom
has responsibility for coordinating delivery of the Executive’s policy on Rathlin Island. The Rathlin Island Policy was introduced by the
Executive in 2010 and is coordinated by DRD. The purpose of the Rathlin Policy is to develop a vibrant healthy Rathlin community
and increase the involvement of islanders in the development of policies and projects which improve conditions for all of the people
of the island while protecting its environment. Previously Tom was Director of Transportation Policy Division within DRD; prior to this
he was Head of the Policy Innovation Unit and Programme for Government Unit in OFMDFM.

Neil Ross is Head of Community Growth Team, Strengthening Communities, in Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Inverness.
Stephen Royle is Professor of Island Geography at Queen’s University Belfast. A graduate of St John’s College, Cambridge, he took
his PhD at the University of Leicester and moved to Queen’s in 1976 as a geography lecturer. The two main themes of his research
career are the historical geography of Belfast and the study of small islands. He is an inveterate traveller to islands and has visited
765 different islands. He edits the book reviews for Island Studies Journal and is treasurer of the International Small Island Studies
Association. Stephen Royle is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Dr Rachel Shanks currently works at the University of Aberdeen’s School of Education. The focus of her research is professional
learning and community learning and development in isolated communities. She has recently been working in the Small Isles of
Scotland researching the use of digital technologies to enhance social and economic sustainability. She teaches research methods,
community learning and development and education law. She was previously a law lecturer and has worked for the Trades Union
Congress and Citizens Advice. She is originally from Lisburn, County Antrim.

Conference Registration
Attendance at this conference is free of charge but advance registration is necessary. Please e-mail Mrs Roslyn Barnes ( at the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering Research Support Office, Queen’s University Belfast, to confirm your interest in attending.

All Welcome

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